We learned this week that Steve Jobs has no strong desire to add USB 3.0 ports to Apple’s lineup of computers, saying “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time.” According DigiTimes, other notebook computer vendors agree.
While Jobs claimed it was because of low adoption of the technology possibly due to lack of Intel chipset support, the DigiTimes report says it is because one vendor has a bit of a monopoly on parts since others have not yet been certified by the governing body that oversees the USB specs.
The USB Implementers Forum has not passed off on other vender’s iterations of the new faster USB specification. For that reason, notebook vendors would have to pay NEC $4-$5 for each computer or maybe even each port, which may not sound like much. But multiply that by millions and it adds up. With very lean profit margins in the competitive notebook computer market, there is little room for a spec that doesn’t have a lot of public adoption. And the public is not likely to adopt it quickly until there are more USB 3.0 computers and accessories for sale.
One reason Intel may be slow to get on board with the faster USB is Light Peak, a technology that relies on optical cables instead of the electrical cables in USB. Light Peak is potentially much faster than USB with a throughput many times that of USB 3.0.
The good news is vendors are set to pass inspection and begin selling their parts soon. The added competition will lower the prices so USB 3.0 should be more prevalent in 2011, just not in Apple computers.